Sunday, June 17, 2018

hygiene

Seth can get undressed and dressed all by himself and can even (usually) pick clothes that match (or at least come close).  Today he added another step in his morning hygiene routine:  "Mom, my armpits stink.  I can't go to Meema's with armpits stink."  LOL!!!!  The only thing that really ever stinks on him is his hair because he wears a hat every minute that he's awake, but he uses deodorant (when I remember) just in case he gets stinky.  Today, I did NOT remember, but he DID!  :-)

Friday, June 15, 2018

Tears of Joy

Homeschooling Seth makes me cry sometimes.  We have had a few days that involved yelling, spanking, crying . . . failure.  We've had a few days that Seth tried his best, but he just can't do what I asked him to do which makes me cry . . . sadness.  Today, though, I was crying because HE DID IT all by himself!!!!  The task was so simple, but it took Seth three days of practice to understand how to put the numbers one through ten in order.  Other days, he would get 1, 2, 3, and maybe 4 but then think that 7 went next.  He would only know what number to put next if I counted out loud starting at one, not just once, but six times to get numbers four through nine in order (obviously, when the number ten was all that was left, he knew what to do without re-counting).  Today, though, he whispered the numbers himself.  I sat and watched and gave no input at all.  If he put the numbers in the wrong order (which he did a few times), he corrected them himself.  He didn't need to re-count to know what the next number was every time.  He only re-counted to check to see if they were in the correct order.  Four attempts in a row he put the numbered cards in numerical order!

Yesterday, I got to spend the evening with three sweet girls from church.  One of them is two years old and said many things just like Seth does when he's not feeling like being sociable:  "Leave me alone," "Don't touch me," and "Go away!"  All of those words made me chuckle because she's SO cute and spunky!  When she was feeling more comfortable, she said sweet things like, "Thank you," and "Are you ok?" when I said "ouch" as I tried to stand up straight after being on the ground with her.  Another of the girls is seven years old and is perfectly capable of taking care of herself and her little sister.  She's polite, fun, and funny.  And then there's the 13-year-old.  She's only two months older than Seth, but is a beautiful big sister who can (and does) take care of her younger sisters and herself just like a young mommy.  Everything about her shows normal or even above average development.  She's smart, pretty, caring, polite, and competent.  She can see what needs to be done or said and react appropriately.  Everything about these three delightful girls shows perfect development and great parenting.  I try so hard not to compare Seth to anyone else, but sometimes comparisons hit me in the face, especially when I realize that a certain child is the same age as Seth.  I can get so completely wrapped up in Seth that I forget how different he is from other people his age.

Comparisons like last night are a little difficult, but necessary for me to remember that my reality isn't what it was before I had Seth.  All at the same time, the normal development of those three sweet girls and the snail-pace slow development of my sweet boy are parts of reality.  The differences aren't cause for mourning because God made Seth exactly how He wanted him to be.  Over-analyzing the whole concept of being happy for both sides of reality can make me confused and sad, and that's probably Satan's attempt to steal the joy that God intended when He gave me Seth.  I can't allow the thought, "This isn't fair!" to be any part of my thought process.  Accepting and seeing the benefits of both sides of reality causes celebration.  I'm so glad for the successes of my sweetheart Seth,  and I'm equally glad for the successes of the sweethearts who visited yesterday.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Time Flies


I finally got around to changing my desktop screen saver and wallpaper today from winter pictures to spring pictures.  While I was looking through my pictures to choose my wallpaper, I found these two pictures of Joel.  How did that little squishy boy grow up so fast?  I hated hearing older parents say to enjoy every minute because time goes so quickly.  When my kids were making me crazy with their fighting and demanding, I wondered when that fast-moving time was ever going to start.  Now that I look back at the pictures, I realize it was going the whole time.  I was just so focused on the difficult parts of life that I didn't realize it.  So I'm crying as I look at that little boy that I can't get back to hug one more time because he's an adult now.  He lets me hug him, but it's not the same as hugging my little boy.  BUT God blessed me with a second chance:  Seth.  He can't replace Joel's clever intelligence or Makenzie's princess sweet sassiness or Luke's hilarious stories, but his life is a clock slowed down.  He's twelve years old, but I can still hold him, stare at him, trace his chubby little fingers, squeeze his baby face cheeks because regular, racing time doesn't apply to Seth.  He grows more slowly, learns more slowly, accomplishes goals and milestones more slowly.  I'm thankful!!

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

BOOKS!


I love, love LOVE lists . . . and books!  I'm always paying attention when people say they're reading something interesting.  I'd like to say that I read to improve my mind and my life, but the truth is that I read to compare reality and to escape reality.  Mostly, my life is super great!  I have SO much to be thankful for, SO many reasons to honestly say that LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL!  Sometimes, though, life is boring, and sometimes life is difficult.  No matter which of these mindsets I'm in, reading someone else's story makes me see that either my life is great or (when my life isn't going so great) my life could obviously be worse.  Reading is a way to travel and stick my nose in other people's interesting business without leaving my house and without offending anyone with my nosiness.

"Top 10 Favorites" list that I made in 2013:
  1.  The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery
  2.  So B. It by Sarah Weeks
  3.  Onward Crispy Shoulders by Mary Perry
  4.  Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbett
  5.  Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
  6.  The Glass Lake by Maeve Binchey
  7.  Blessings by Anna Quindlen
  8.  The Shack by William P. Young
  9.  The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom
10.  Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah

I'm not sure if that's still my top 10 favorites, but it's a decent list.  When someone asks for book recommendations, I usually give him or her my favorite authors or my favorites in that person's favorite genre.  Today I feel like writing out the complete list.  I do not read self-help books or instruction books or nonfiction (although an occasional biography or autobiography is on one of my lists).  Those kinds of books put me to sleep.  For the most part, I read fiction only.  If I want to grow spiritually, I read the Bible.  (Reminder . . . I would never judge anyone for their reading choices, and I expect the same respect.)  I also don't just read Christian fiction.  My favorite kinds of books involve believable characters living life.  Many of the books on my lists would be offensive to many people because of bad language and immorality.  I don't like the bad language or the immorality, but I look past those things to get the overall story and the day-to-day life of characters that are not living my life.  So if anyone picks a book to read from my lists, he or she would be wise to look up the book on Goodreads to get an idea whether or not the book might be offensive in any way (or ask me . . . I'll be honest).  Speaking of Goodreads, I've logged every book I've read since at least 2008 (https://www.goodreads.com).  My name on Goodreads is "Michelle Hofacker" (some places, I make my name some version of "Polar Mom," but I guess I wasn't feeling inventive when I set up my Goodreads account) if you want to find my lists on that website.

Favorite Authors:
  1.  Maeve Binchy (I prefer novels to short stories, but everything she writes is brilliant!!!  Sadly, this author died, so her list of novels is complete.  I've found a couple authors that might be somewhat similar, but I haven't read enough of them to know for sure -- Marcia Willett and Sharon Owens.) 
  2.  Lisa Samson (I own and have read every novel she's written except the young adult books.)
  3.  Richard Paul Evans (Not sure about the "Michael Vey" series, but I've read several of his other books and loved them.)
  4.  Jan Karon (The Mitford Series -- I literally felt depressed and cried when I came to the end of the Mitford Series.  Thankfully, she wrote some more a few years later.)
  5.  Charlotte Bronte
  6.  Emily Bronte
  7.  Eleanor Porter (and the other authors that finished the Pollyanna series)
  8.  Janet Evanovich (Stephanie Plum series)  9.  Jane Austen (A little difficult to read, but great stories.)
  9.  Francine Rivers (I haven't read all of her novels, but the ones I've read were good.  The best one was The Last Sin Eater.  That one was hard to put down!)
10.  Louisa May Alcott
11.  L.M. Montgomery
12.  Kristin Hannah (Modern popular fiction isn't usually "my thing," but her books are very interesting.)

Books by other authors that I thought were amazing:
-- The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
-- Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg
-- The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards
-- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
-- The Bridges of Madison County by Robert James Waller
-- The Help by Kathryn Stockett
-- Bridge of Sighs by Richard Russo
-- The Distant Hours by Kate Morton

Authors that are good, but not my favorites -- still interesting, though:
Jodi Picoult
Cecelia Ahern
Marilynne Robinson
Nicholas Sparks
Leisha Kelly (This author grew up in the same county I did.  She tragically died in a car accident several years ago.)
Ann B. Ross (Miss Julia series)
Charles Dickens (Difficult to get through, requires serious concentration, but worth it.)
Anne Bronte (Ditto previous comment.)
Karen Kingsbury
Anita Shreve
Lawana Blackwell
Kate Morton
Anna Quindlen
Gil McNeal
Kate Jacobs
Elizabeth Bass
Fannie Flagg

Since I'm ALWAYS in the middle of a book (I have a book in my purse just in case I have to wait somewhere and have the chance to read at least a paragraph.) and always buying or borrowing books by new authors, this list will always be changing and lengthening.  As of today, though, this is a pretty good representation of my recommendations :-)

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Seth's health

My sweet Seth had some routine blood work done in January.  His pediatrician called a few days later to tell me that Seth has celiac disease and probably Grave's disease.  He sent the lab orders to have more blood work done to get more details for the endocrinologist.  Today we met with the endocrinologist to get her diagnosis and plan of care.  Science has never been my area of expertise, but here's my best attempt at explaining these two problems.

Having been diagnosed with celiac disease over 25 years ago, I was not overly surprised or concerned with that part of the diagnosis.  Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition involving digestion.  The small intestine is incapable of digesting gluten from wheat, rye, and barley.  It tries to digest those foods anyway and damages itself with the effort.  That damage will heal over the course of up to a year IF it does not keep damaging itself trying to digest more gluten.  Left untreated, though, the damage can become permanent, causing the intestine to be incapable of digesting anything at all.  At that point, the body would starve, regardless of how much food it receives.  The medical community has yet to discover any medication that cures this disease.  That sounds like bad news, but it's actually good news in my opinion.  The only treatment for celiac disease is a strict gluten-free diet.  If the intestine doesn't have to try to digest what it can't handle, it will heal and stay healed.  For Seth and me, "gluten-free" is not a fad.  It's a life-saving choice.  We don't have extra doctor's appointments, medications, or blood work.  Just a gluten-free diet.

Grave's disease is trickier to understand.  The thyroid is a gland in the front of the neck.  It produces hormones that help all of the organs work well and control how the body uses food for energy.  Many people with Down syndrome have a thyroid that doesn't produce enough of these hormones and have to take a man-made version of those hormones (synthroid).  Without a normal level of those hormones, people might be more tired and cold than normal, have a slow heart rate and low metabolism, and not grow at a normal rate.  Seth's thyroid is producing too many of those hormones, though, and this causes the body (if you think of the body as a car) to idle too fast.  Extended "fast idling" could eventually lead to heart failure.  Since Seth is showing no symptoms at all of hyperthyroidism (such as being nervous, having trouble sleeping, or losing weight), the doctor is almost certain that this condition is a recent development and that his heart has not been damaged.  The first treatment for Grave's disease (named after a man whose last name was Graves, not relating to a death rate at all) is to give Seth a drug that lowers the amount of hormone his thyroid makes.  Two possible side effects are a rash that doesn't go away after taking Benedryl and painfully swollen joints.  The longest he'll have to take this medicine is 18 months.  He'll have to have his blood checked every 4-6 weeks to see if the medication is working (the doctor prescribed numbing lotion so that this is less horrible from now on), to see if we can lower the dosage, and to check for other adverse reactions in the body.  If the medicine causes any negative reactions or if the disease hasn't gone into remission by that 18-month mark, he'll have his thyroid removed and take synthroid for the rest of his life.  The doctor said that the medicine works for about 50% of patients.

The bottom line is that Seth will be fine.  We're praying, of course, that Seth has no negative side effects from the medicine and that it works perfectly, putting the disease in remission.  If that's not God's will, we'll be praying for the doctor to safely remove Seth's thyroid without hurting any of the valuable body parts that are close to the thyroid and for the endocrinologist to know the exactly right amount of synthroid to prescribe for Seth.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Down syndrome awareness: AFFECTION

This is one of my favorite pictures of Seth and me because it shows an important aspect of Down syndrome:  affection.  I can't speak for all parents of children with Down syndrome, but Seth is SUPER affectionate.  He can also be SUPER hateful, but I'll save that for another post.  Seth shows affection in many ways:  physically (hugs, high fives, smiles, holding hands, kisses), verbally ("I love you," "You're the best mom ever!"), and practically (being helpful, listening to people's words and/or watching people's body language to see what he can do to be helpful).

That last one showed up just yesterday TWICE.  Usually, Seth likes to cause CRAZY chaos when we go shopping (running away because he loves to be chased or grabbing things that he thinks he wants).  Because of this tendency, if you see Seth and me shopping together, you'll see me pushing a cart with our purchases and pulling a cart with Seth sitting on a pile of pillows and blankets and watching a movie with headphones on.  This is the method that I've found to work the best since shopping is my daytime job, and crazy chaos is not what I get paid for.  Yesterday, Seth was in his cart watching his movie quietly when I realized that I needed two more bags of soup from the very top shelf.  When Seth was still in school, I would've either climbed the shelves to reach the top or taken the extra 15 minutes to find a store employee who could get a ladder to help me.  Now that I get to take Seth with me, though, I don't need to risk my life or look for the employees that seem to be hiding when I need help.  Seth gladly puts down his movie, stands up in the cart, and reaches whatever I need.  He gets HUGE praise for this help, of course, which makes him want to help more.

The second time Seth was helpful yesterday was at Costco.  I didn't have time to go to Costco before noon, so I knew it was going to be too crowded to use the two-cart method.  Seth agreed to help me shop.  I was nervous!!  Seth often agrees to be good and then forgets his promise in less than five minutes.  Yesterday he did not forget!  He really helped me!  He didn't act like a wild animal; he didn't yell at anyone; he didn't knock things off the shelves; he didn't push the cart into other people; he didn't whine about not getting something that he saw and wanted.  He helped me push the cart carefully, got exactly what I asked him to get from the shelves, put them carefully in the cart, waited patiently in the check-out line, and walked nicely to the car with me.  For his shockingly good behavior, Seth got a box of rice krispie treats (one of his favorites).

A side note to this, however, is that Seth's behavior is always on his terms.  He behaves when HE feels like it, and he misbehaves when he feels like it.  There is no reward fabulous enough and no punishment horrible enough to MAKE Seth do or not do something.  He has to decide for himself.  I try VERY hard to offer every incentive to be good and nice, hoping and praying that the rewards for good behavior will be more enticing than the fun of misbehaving.  Seth has his own version of logic, though, so even rice krispie treats aren't always enough to convince him to be good.  I can never underestimate my sweet Seth or assume that I know what he's going to do.  He is more than capable of unbelievably bad behavior . . . and also completely capable of perfect behavior :-)


Saturday, June 3, 2017

NO MORE FB DRAMA!!

I haven't posted in this blog for three years because I've been posting everything on facebook.  Send me a friend request if you want to catch up on what's been happening with the Hofacker family :-)  I'm so tired of the drama on facebook, though, and plan to post here again.

The most recent events of "Michelle's Day" involve graduations.  My mom and stepdad came up to attend Joel's graduation from high school.

 Joel not only graduated from high school, but he also graduated from manual labor summer jobs.  He's working with the children's ministry pastor this summer and loves it.
 Makenzie graduated from summer couch potato/social butterfly to a part-time secretary at church.
 Luke graduated from Seth watcher to carpet cleaner at church/school.  He's not loving that, so growing up isn't quite agreeing with my Lukey Pookey.  With his Bible app, music, dramatized Bible on tape (I was shocked to find out that Fred Meyer is once again selling cassette tape walkmans!!!), and regular visits from Dad, Mom, and Seth, Luke is surviving.
 Seth graduated from Baxter Elementary special education program. . .
 . . . and started "school home" with me as his main teacher.  When he feels like cooperating, Seth is a really good student and learns fairly quickly.
 Summer walks officially began Tuesday, May 30.  Seth and I walk to the church at least once per day to either visit Luke or to pick him up to walk home together after work.


The Hofacker Family 2008